As I look at what NFC South teams did in the NFL draft, I’m not seeing a lot of players that will make instant impacts.
In fact, I’m seeing only four players that are likely to be starters on opening day. Let’s take a look:
Atlanta Falcons: Go ahead and put first-round pick Desmond Trufant in the lineup as a starting cornerback opposite Asante Samuel. Second-round pick Robert Alford will get a chance to compete with Robert McClain for the job at nickel back. Levine Toilolo, a fourth-round choice, has a shot at some decent playing time as the second tight end.
Carolina Panthers: First-round pick Star Lotulelei will be an instant starter at defensive tackle next to Dwan Edwards. Second-round pick Kawann Short could start off his career rotating in for Lotulelei and Edwards. The rest of Carolina’s draft picks will begin their careers as special-teams players.
New Orleans Saints: Although the Saints brought defensive backs Malcolm Jenkins and Patrick Robinson along slowly in recent years, I think safety Kenny Vaccaro will get thrown right into the starting lineup. He’s likely to unseat Roman Harper as the Saints overhaul their defense and go to a 3-4 scheme. It might be too much to expect third-round pick Terron Armstead to be an immediate starter at left tackle. But Armstead will get a look in training camp because Charles Brown and Jason Smith are the only other options.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: At worst, second-round pick Johnthan Banks will begin his career as the third cornerback. That’s virtually the same as a starter because teams use so many nickel packages. But I think there’s a good possibility Banks vaults past Eric Wright and starts opposite Darrelle Revis. Fourth-round picks Akeem Spence and William Gholston have a chance to earn spots in the rotation on the defensive line.